Neurogenic cutaneous vasodilation in the cat forepaw

The present experiments were undertaken to determine, using Laser Doppler flowmetry, if elimination of efferent constrictor mechanisms would unmask cutaneous vasodilator responses following preganglionic sympathetic nerve stimulation in the forepaw of anesthetized cats. We also addressed the question of a potential causal relationship between neurally evoked vasodilator and sudomotor responses. Three separate anti-adrenergic regimens were utilized: (1) acute guanethidine administration (1-2 mg/kg); (2) chronic monoamine depletion with reserpine (5 mg/kg) and alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (2 x 300 mg/kg); and (3) alpha-adrenoceptor blockade with prazosin (300 micrograms/kg) and yohimbine (0.5 mg/kg). Guanethidine treatment produced a significant depression of basal cutaneous blood flow whereas alpha-adrenoceptor blockade did not. In all three groups, stimulation of the preganglionic thoracic sympathetic nerve trunk produced intensity-dependent increases of digital skin blood flow along with near-maximal sympathetic-cholinergic sudomotor (electrodermal) responses recorded simultaneously from the same paw. Vasodilator responses were not altered by intravenous propranolol (1 mg/kg) or atropine (1 mg/kg); however, evoked sudomotor responses were totally blocked by atropine. Low doses (1.5 mg/kg i.v.) of hexamethonium selectively abolished the cutaneous vasodilator responses but not concomitantly evoked sudomotor responses. These results demonstrate, using direct measurements of blood flow, that cutaneous digital vasodilation can be measured in cats following removal of vasoconstrictor mechanisms either pre- or postjunctionally. Neither muscarinic nor beta-adrenoceptor mechanisms appear to be involved. These experiments also suggest that cutaneous vasodilation is not a consequence of concomitant sudomotor activation.

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